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Higher radiation doses helps patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer live longer

September 03, 2017

An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people were diagnosed with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer in 2003 with an expected five-year survival rate of only 10 to 20 percent, according to the study. Although adding chemotherapy can help some patients live longer, in general survival rates are very low, particularly in comparison to other cancers.

In the study, 72 patients with stage III (or advanced) non-small cell lung cancer were split into two groups and treated with different doses of three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy in addition to chemotherapy. Of the 37 patients in the first group treated with a low dose of radiation therapy, 61 percent of the patients saw their cancer spread during the first year. By the second year, 76 percent of the patients had suffered a relapse. In contrast, of the 35 patients in the second group who were treated with a higher dose of radiation therapy, 27 percent of patients saw their cancer come back within the first year and 47 percent had suffered a relapse by the second year.

Patients who received the higher dose of radiation also typically lived longer than their counterparts receiving the lower dose of radiation. The median survival time was 15 months for patients in the low-dose group compared to 20 months for patients who received the higher dose.

???Although breast cancer and prostate cancer are more prevalent, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among men and women,??? said Ramesh Rengan, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. ???This study shows that higher doses of radiation can help patients with advanced lung cancer to live longer. I??m hopeful that this will help us eventually find a way to cure more patients of this deadly disease.???

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